Can We Operate Without Ethics?

by Nancy Dail, BA, LMT, NCTMB

An active massage therapy practice is the result of hard work, education, and a credible professional reputation. We can advertise, use social media, and network with other health professionals, but our reputation is the corner stone of successful practice. Ethical dilemmas are a part of our society and to think we are never going to be exposed to a professional ethical dilemma is naïve.

What if your employer suggests you give extras in your workplace and you are strapped for money? Isn’t this the controversy around the series The Client List? We know this is unethical. Shall we sweep it under the rug and say it never happens? That would be like saying that crime does not exist. And since denying that this practice is not what therapeutic massage therapists do, did not get us much satisfaction for the respect we need and expect, what should we do now? Certainly we can boycott the show. Will that work? Probably not.

What did the nursing profession do when Nurse Jackie hit the airwaves? The story is about a registered nurse who took drugs at her worksite, got addicted, had an affair, went to rehab and will apparently have to fight for her children for joint custody. The show is a hit. It depicts the nursing profession in a very real light. Regardless of her issues, Jackie is a good nurse with lots of social and behavioral faults. People have faults. People make mistakes. We can deny this happens and it is all fantasy or we can investigate the ethical pathways that help us stay on the straight and narrow.

The value of attending an ethics class is to remind us of our boundaries that will help maintain our stellar reputations, bolster our existing character traits and toss around ways to solve ethical dilemmas in the work place environment. Operating without peer advice can lead to snap decisions that are not necessarily the best ethical avenue.